The land of Pablo Neruda and Isabella Allende, Chile is a complete experience – nature and adventure rolled into one. There is so much packed into this string bean of a country - the urban boulevards and the bustle of Santiago, the Andean foothills and the Atacama Desert, the Pacific coastline and the National Parks, the guanaco and the glaciers. The Europeans have populated this country with vigor but the warm and resilient people of Chile have stuck to their traditions, especially in the Andean foothills.
Enjoy a trek and go spotting the amazing guanaco in its National Parks, indulge in the bright blue of the Pacific, the intense brown of the Andes and the Atacama, and the pearly whites of the glaciers in Southern Chile.
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CHILE QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Santiago
- Currency: Chilean Peso (CLP)
- Area: 756,102 km²
- Population: 18,734,200 (2018 estimate)
- Language: Spanish
- Religion: Roman Catholic 70%, Protestant 15.1%, None 8.3%
- Electricity: 220V, 50Hz (type C & L plugs)
Chile has the distinction of being the longest country in the world as also the narrowest - it is 4300 km long and just 175 km wide.
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CHILE PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 1 May, Labor Day
- 21 May, Battle of Iquique
- 15 August, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- 18 September, Independence Day
- 19 September, Armed Forces Day
- 12 October, Día de la Raza
- 1 November, All Saints Day
- 8 December, Immaculate Conception
- 31 December, Bank Holiday
Also, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Corpus Christi.
BEST TIME TO VISIT CHILE
Due to the geography of the country, the seasons in Chile incredibly diverse. Depending on the region you wish to visit and the activities that you're after, the best time for different regions is restricted to a particular season. Chile experiences mostly dry southern hemisphere summers between November and January and wet winters between May and August. Chile’s climate can range from tropical in the North, the Mediterranean in the center, and Antarctic (antiboreal oceanic) in the South with unique regional climates like the arid Atacama Desert or the high peaks of the Andean mountains.
If you want to pay Torres del Paine or Lake District a visit, the ideal time to do so would be during the summer months of December through March, which is also the high tourist season in all of Chile. Festivals and events during these months are plentiful but endure to make your reservations well in advance or you’ll be most likely left stranded with limited or very expensive options.
If you want to explore Northern Altiplano, summer is the wet season in this region, with monsoon rain spoiling most afternoons throughout the season. Winters from June-September is a great time for skiing.
Spring (late September-November) and autumn (March-May) is also a fantastic time to plan your Chilean trip as the weather is pleasant in almost all cities of the country and you will get the cheapest prices on hotels and flights.
While places like the Atacama Desert can be visited throughout the year, the autumn month of March is the ideal time to visit Easter Islands and the Juan Fernandez Archipelago.
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN CHILE
The ski season in Chile starts in June and continues to October. The best skiing conditions are from mid July to early September and the busiest month is July.
HIKING & CYCLING IN CHILE
While in central Chile you can enjoy outdoor activities all the way from September until June, the months of November to March are the best time, especially south of Copiapó.
BEACH OPTIONS IN CHILE
The most popular time to visit the beautiful Pacific coast beaches of Chile is during the summer, from December to February. March and November will be cooler but still pleasant.
SURFING IN CHILE
Chile is an incredible all year round surfing destination, boasting an average of 300 days of surf per year, although most would choose to avoid the cold winter months of June, July and August.
KITESURF IN CHILE
The most consistent and best winds in Chile for kitesurfing are from September to March. Check out the following spots: Matanzas village, Roca Cuadrada, Pupuya and La Boca.
For more details on kite surfing in Chile expand this section!
HEALTH RISKS IN CHILE
Be aware of possible health risks in
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
CHILE TRAVEL COSTS
You can travel all over the country by air or rent a car if you have a valid driver’s license, are 25 years of age, and present either a credit card or huge cash deposit. The cheapest vehicles can be hired for US$50 to US$65 a day. Though most taxis are metered, it is suggested that you negotiate the fee in advance. Long-distance buses are comfortable and reliable.
Chilean buses run on time and tickets must be purchased ahead of time. Fares are reasonable by European or North American standards. Chile is also one of the best countries for hitchhiking.
Southbound trains connect Santiago with Tenuco. No national railways operate north of Santiago. In general, trains are slow and inconveniently and cannot compete with the speed, low fares and punctuality of the buses. Schedules change so it’s best to check an official timetable.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF CHILE
From the towering heights of the Andes to the beaches along its coastline, Chile offers an outdoor enthusiast everything from skiing and mountain biking to swimming in the blue waters of coastal towns. And if you are a wine aficionado, a trip to the vineyards around Valparaiso is definitely in order, as Chilean wine is renowned the world over.
Allow at least three weeks if you wish to cover Chile from top to bottom; flying between some of the destinations will allow you to cover vast distances quickly.
Atacama desert - Visit erupting geysers, crinkly salt plains and emerald lakes in the morning, and deep, mystical valleys by sunset in the driest desert on earth.
Elqui Valley/stargazing near Vicuna - Take advantage of some of the clearest skies in Chile and look at the universe through some of the world's most powerful telescopes.
Santiago - Chile's rapidly evolving capital city boasts a vibrant eating out and nightlife scene, several fascinating museums, numerous cultural pursuits, and a selection of excellent places to stay.
Valparaíso - One of South America's most enchanting cities, Valparaíso has a tangle of colourful houses, cobbled streets, and bohemian hang-outs spread across a series of undulating hills overlooking the Pacific.
Isla Negra - Pablo Neruda's house has been turned into a beguiling museum with an evocative collection of the Nobel Prize-winning poet's kitsch and often bizarre trinkets and knick-knacks.
Wineries - Visit the numerous traditional bodegas around San Fernando and Santa Cruz, and sample some of Chile's finest vintages.
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine - Hike the trails of Chile's most popular – and most spectacular – national park or climb the granite towers that give the park its name.
Chiloé Island — the largest island of the country. Sample one of Chile's most memorable dishes, admire the palafitos (traditional houses on stilts), or hike through the temperate rainforest on Chile's mist and legend shrouded island.
Isla Robinson Crusoe - Although badly damaged by the 2010 tsunami, Isla Robinson Crusoe still has the end-of-the-world castaway feel that inspired Daniel Defoe's famous book.
Easter Island - Gazing down into the giant crater of the extinct Rano Kau volcano and visiting the magical moai at Ahu Tongariki and Rano Raraku are once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Tierra del Fuego - Explore the deserted roads running through the steppe and dotted with guanacos and rheas, or fish in the pristine lakes and rivers of Chile's remotest region.
Isla Navarino - Chile's southernmost inhabited territory (barring Antarctica), where the warmth of the locals contrasts with the harshness of the landscape.
Laguna San Rafael National Park — includes the San Rafael Glacier. Take a boat trip to the ice-filled lagoon that is Chile's fastest shrinking glacier and get close to the ice in a Zodiac speedboat.
Lauca National Park — the Lago Chungará, one of the world's highest lakes, overseen by the mighty Volcán Parinacota.
Pichilemu — Chile's premier surfing destination.
Valle de la Luna — breath-taking desert landscape with impressive sand dunes and rock formations.
LGBTQ IN CHILE
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights in Chile have seen remarkable advances in recent years. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Chile and since 2012, the law bans all discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Since 22 October 2015, same-sex couples have the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples, within a civil union. On 15 January 2020, the same-sex marriage bill was approved at its first reading in the Senate by 22 votes to 16, and has now gone to the Constitutional Committee.
Although LGBT people still face some legal and social obstacles not experienced by non-LGBT Chileans, Chile is predominantly LGBTQ accepting and host an annual Gay Pride Parade in Santiago.